Unit 201 – Use Digital and Social Media in Marketing Campaigns

Aim of this unit

This unit concerns understanding planning requirements for the use of digital and social media and marketing to target customers using digital and social media.

Section One

1. Understand planning requirements for the use of digital and social media

In order to be successful, digital and social media marketing campaigns must be carefully planned and structured. There are a number of factors to consider, such as the target audience, the message that needs to be conveyed, and the platforms that will be used.

In addition, it is also important to consider the timing of the campaign, as well as the budget. By taking all of these factors into account, businesses can create digital and social media marketing campaigns that are more likely to achieve their desired results.

This unit concerns understanding planning requirements for the use of digital and social media and marketing to target customers using digital and social media.

1.1 Describe the importance of the objectives and budget for digital and social media marketing aligning with the marketing plan

Many social media marketing campaigns can be carried out on a low budget because most social media platforms are free, but a properly executed campaign does require significant investment. Setting a realistic budget that you can stick to is critical, as is limiting unplanned impulse spending.

It is critical to estimate the resources required and assign the relevant tasks to carry out the campaign as the first stage in developing a budget. A professional team, consisting of either an in-house social media team and/or external consultants or a public relations firm, should be put in place for the most effective social media marketing campaigns.

Staff costs, agency or consultancy fees, video production, content development, graphic design, social media software licenses, periodicals, website advertising expenditures, and promotion charges such as social media advertisement boosts must all be considered.

Set a budget and stick to it after figuring out everything you’ll need to spend money on throughout the life of the campaign.

Remember that all this is futile if it does not meet the objectives that have been set. Therefore, ensure the budget to achieve your objectives is realistic and achievable.

The many stages of a marketing campaign allow you to engage with your target audience
The many stages of a marketing campaign allow you to engage with your target audience

1.2 Describe how to identify the nature and location of target customers

To advertise yourself and your goods, you must first determine who you want to attract as a consumer or client; this is your target market. The more you know about your target market, the more you’ll be able to customise your campaigns to their demands and advertise things that they’ll buy.

Defining the demographic profile is the greatest place to start when selecting your target market. Age, gender, ethnicity, income, education, marital status, family status, occupation, and other factors are all part of a demographic profile. You’ll know exactly who to sell to and how to persuade them to buy from you if you have a well-defined description of your target consumer.

The next step is to identify their geographical location. Knowing the places where your target market lives or works can help you develop effective advertising techniques. You would be able to create marketing strategies that are tailored specifically for them if you know which cities, states, and even countries your potential customers come from.

Finally, it’s important to understand the lifestyles of your target customers. When you know what entertainment, travel, and social activities they are involved in, it makes it easier to figure out how best to communicate with them.

For example, if a large portion of your target market frequents nightclubs on the weekends, you could advertise yourself at these venues. Similarly, if they’re big fans of particular TV shows, you could make use of influencers from those programmes to spread the word about your business.

Through careful research and analysis, you can identify the nature and location of target customers and create strategies that will help you reach them in a more effective manner.

By identifying any relevant information about your target market, you can tailor your advertising to their needs and interests. Once you have a detailed description of who they are, where they come from, and how they live their lives, you’ll be able to craft campaigns that will get them to take notice and interact with your business.

1.3 Describe sources of information about the nature and location of target customer groups

The first step is to identify your target market using their demographic profile, but the following step is to contact current or future clients.

Contacting your consumers in person or over the phone is a free but time-consuming approach. This is a terrific way to learn about their communication style and how they utilise your product. With their consent, you may record their likes and dislikes, as well as any suggestions for improvement and their opinions on your competitors’ products.

Another alternative for reaching a big number of clients is to use internet surveys such as Survey Monkey. You can then ask precise questions to get information about your client’s motivations, identities, and the websites they visit. You could also utilise the information to produce a newsletter with a sign-up option, allowing you to build your database for future usage.

Another wonderful approach to engagement is to use social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, which are amazing platforms for gaining access to people who could be interested in your services. You may use Twitter’s advanced search feature to find people using keywords and phrases. Facebook is also search-friendly, allowing you to look up people by their company and email address.

Google also has a number of methods and tools, such as Google Geotargeting, which allows you to determine a website visitor’s geolocation and serve alternative content based on that visitor’s location.

Choosing between acquisition and retention marketing campaigns will depend on the type of customer we wish to target
Choosing between acquisition and retention marketing campaigns will depend on the type of customer we wish to target

1.4 Explain the implications of retention and acquisition programmes as they affect the choice of digital/social media

The process of bringing on new clients is known as acquisition. Joining industry-based forums to attract new customers, using online advertising such as Facebook ads or Google ads to reach a larger target audience, commenting on relevant blogs, posts, and articles to link to your website, or joining a competitor’s community on their website, blogs, and social media platforms to add valuable constructive discussions to enable customers to choose which company they think would work best for them are some examples of ways to do this.

Retention is the process of keeping your current consumers by ensuring that they are happy with your product, making them more inclined to buy more and suggest your brand to others. Having good customer service by actively responding, listening, and encouraging engagement, creating a loyalty programme or doing random giveaway prizes to show your appreciation for your loyal customers, or geofencing to entice passers-by to enter your shop are all ways that businesses can retain customers.

One of the most effective strategies to improve your acquisition and retention programmes is to use social media. Social media platforms enable you to communicate directly, immediately, and personally with existing consumers, which can be viewed by possible new customers, who may be more inclined to purchase the product if they perceive a company that prioritises the customer.

Existing customers can become brand promoters if you have an active social media presence, such as Facebook, where they can leave reviews.

1.5 Explain how to reach target customers in accordance with the plan

Once you’ve identified your target consumer group, all of your advertising should be tailored to them. A more generic commercial will blend in with the competition. Surveys and research are excellent approaches to figuring out what appeals to your target market. 

Using tools like Survey Monkey or feedback forms at events to obtain input from new and existing consumers on how they liked our event and how we can improve. This demonstrates to clients that we appreciate their input. 

Blogs and forums, as well as social media tools like banner ads, geo-targeting, PPC, and SEO, are more ways to engage with your target clients. These internet marketing strategies are some of the most well-known and cost-effective ways to reach out to your target clients with pinpoint accuracy over the Internet.

Acquisition of data to form insightful reporting and decisive recommendations for your marketing campaigns
Acquisition of data to form insightful reporting and decisive recommendations for your marketing campaigns

1.6 Explain the requirements of a data collection and reporting system that is capable of capturing the information required by the plan

Data collecting is a technique for obtaining and analysing information that helps you build your marketing database. This information is gathered to direct us on the right path and to aid in the evaluation of the marketing plan’s results. 

Obtaining reliable data is critical to achieving the desired outcomes. It’s critical that businesses employ the correct technologies to gather data and the right people to analyse it.

It’s critical that businesses employ the correct technologies to gather data and the right people to analyse it. In the marketing department, Google Analytics is used to track where your consumers come from, what they respond to, and what devices they use. As a result, we can adjust our marketing strategy to efficiently reach our target clientele.

1.7 Explain the importance of agreeing on the message that conveys the marketing proposition

Before implementing your marketing strategy, it’s critical that everyone involved agrees on and understands a single, consistent message that will be sent to your target audience. When deciding on the message that will express the marketing strategy, much attention must be made.

Drawing out a brief and discussing it with your marketing team or a professional agency that knows what works and what doesn’t for different target audiences is one method to get everyone on the same page. What you want to convey most about the product or service you’re advertising, whether your marketing colleagues understand and agree with this message and if customers will agree that it’s what they want are all important considerations.

Customers value a brand with a well-thought-out and agreed-upon marketing message, which leads to greater sales and money. The success of your approach is demonstrated by the conversion rates from advertising your message to activities such as subscribing to a newsletter, downloading a brochure, or even purchasing your goods.

Targeting your audience with the right message at the right time to improve marketing success
Targeting your audience with the right message at the right time to improve marketing success

Section Two

2. Be able to market to target customers using digital and social media

In today’s digital age, it’s more important than ever for businesses to be able to market effectively to their target customers using digital and social media. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram offer a unique opportunity to reach out to potential customers where they already are, and with the right message, you can convert them into lifelong fans of your brand.

But it’s not enough just to have a presence on these platforms – you need to know how to use them effectively in order to reach your target audience. That means understanding what kind of content resonates with them, what time of day they’re most active, and which platform they’re most likely to use.

With a little bit of effort, you can make sure that your marketing campaigns are truly effective in reaching your target customers.

2.1 Ensure marketing messages are distributed in accordance with the plan

It’s critical to evaluate your distribution capabilities by discussing how your plan’s distribution will help you achieve your marketing objectives. The ability to enhance sales, gain new consumers, and the possibility of sharing target customers with a business partner who already has a big volume of visitors to their website are all important factors to consider.

A good marketing plan can assist you in determining how to successfully deliver your messages to your target clients by determining how you will communicate with them. This could be accomplished by direct mail, display, or social media advertising, or through traditional media such as television or radio. It’s crucial to think about which media can help you sell your items and improve your company’s reputation.

Pay particular attention to laws, guidelines and regulations that befall your current marketing campaigns
Pay particular attention to laws, guidelines and regulations that befall your current marketing campaigns

2.2 Ensure that digital/social media marketing is conducted in accordance with legal, regulatory and industry requirements and standards

When developing a marketing strategy, it’s critical to consider regulations governing data protection and customer privacy rights, as well as copyright restrictions, piracy, and plagiarism.

Data protection refers to the legal challenges that arise when data is collected and distributed. Any personal information you have on clients must be securely stored, accessible only to those who have been granted authorization, and utilised for the stated and agreed-upon purposes.

Because it is a person’s right to privacy, data privacy is linked to data protection. Improper collection, such as collecting private information without their knowledge, improper monitoring of customers’ activities, improper analysis of customer data, improper transfer, such as transferring private data to other companies without their permission, unwanted solicitation, such as sending data to target customers without their permission, and finally, improper non-secure storage of their data are all examples of data privacy issues.

When a person develops an original piece of work, he or she becomes the proprietor of the work and has exclusive rights to it. Articles, photos, and internet videos are examples of copyrighted work. Any type of replication and/or distribution of data without the owner’s explicit authorization is considered piracy. Plagiarism is when you pass off someone else’s work as your own without giving them credit. 

As a result, it is critical to include copyright-free music and images in any marketing your organisation produces in order to comply with privacy and data requirements.

2.3 Explain how to address problems in accordance with the plan

Any marketing campaign plan should be carefully considered to ensure that the brand and its reputation are not harmed by inappropriately or poorly addressing your target audience. If any issues develop throughout the preparation of your campaign, it’s critical to recall your brand values and respond appropriately. 

It’s critical to be able to handle any negative feedback professionally and to take your campaign down if necessary. A well-thought-out strategy will result in a more successful campaign and, as a result, more conversions.

Additional Reading Material

The many aspects of a marketing plan
The many aspects of a marketing plan

The objectives and budgets in the marketing plan

What is a marketing campaign?

To be successful in any business, a marketing plan is fundamental. A marketing plan should reflect your goals, your strategies, and actions. It is key to managing your campaign in getting things done and working towards successful outcomes. Put simply, it is a way to structure and shape your proposed marketing activities. A good, well-organised plan will tell you if your idea makes sense. It is intended to bring logical sequence and discipline to the process so that you can set yourself clear objectives while continuously assessing your marketing effort in whether or not you are achieving these goals.

Traditional marketing campaigns use media forms such as print (newspapers, flyers), radio, and TV, a one-way form of communication. In order to have more interaction with their customers, i.e. two-way communication, an increasingly large number of businesses are using other forms of media in their marketing campaigns.

Social media in marketing campaigns

Social media is now an essential part of any digital marketing campaign. It is the means by which people create, read and share information via virtual communities. All that is required are mobile and web-based technologies to create highly interactive platforms where individuals can learn about, discuss, modify, advertise or construct interesting marketing content. With the increasingly large number of people spending more time on social media sites than any other type of site, it can also be a highly effective medium in marketing campaigns.

The main objectives of the marketing campaign

Digital and social marketing entails identifying the desired target audiences and engaging them through social media. Social media is a key aspect of any digital marketing strategy. Your digital marketing channels must integrate into your overall marketing plan.

Even though you can reach a wider audience through social media and it is deemed a cheaper option than traditional marketing, your social marketing campaign will be more successful and most effective when the strategy is methodically planned.

Indeed, although many businesses use social media in one form or another a large percentage of them do not have a clear strategy or goals for their social media activities. With any successful marketing plan, it is imperative to set out clear objectives and devise a realistic budget.

Key steps in your digital marketing strategy

It is imperative that you set out your business objectives and digital goals. What are your goals? You need to know your objectives to achieve successful social marketing results across multiple social media channels.

One of the main steps in your strategy is to carry out market research. Through market research you:

  • Identify the desired target market(s). These are your customers, the people to whom you want to sell your product or service.
  • Understand and know your customer. You want to know the number of customers, their age group, and how they wish to engage with you (eg their preferred form of communication).
  • Choose the most successful form of social media to engage with your customers (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn).
  • Find out who are your competitors. Check out what exactly they are offering. Can you offer something different? Find out their pricing. Can you offer a better price?
  • Learn about how you should price your own product/service. Many new businesses are under price so careful consideration is needed.

It is also advisable to track and measure your results. Measuring the results of your social marketing strategies is important to understand what is contributing toward the achievement of your strategic goals.

Through careful planning, market research, and tracking you should then create a realistic and fair budget for your marketing campaign.

Budget

Why would you need a budget for digital marketing when social media is free? This is partially true. Often interactive media for your business can be free on many social media channels. But why even bother compiling a digital marketing plan if you are not going to realise its full potential?

While social media marketing strategies can be carried out on a low budget relative to other marketing strategies, a properly executed social media campaign does require significant funding.

You should aim to set a firm and realistic budget for your proposed marketing plan. In turn, once a budget is set you should keep within it and limit any unplanned impulse spending.

Budgets will vary in different marketing strategies but investment in any strategy will certainly take time and most likely a considerable amount of money. For your first step, it is important to assess the resources and assign necessary roles in carrying out the campaign. For an effective social media marketing plan, a professional team needs to be put in place, whether it is an external firm of consultants or an in-house social media team.

You also need to look at all of the components of your marketing campaign and identify the likely cost outcome. Dependent on the size of your digital and media marketing campaign you should consider cost factors including:

  • staff costs
  • agency/consulting fees
  • video production
  • content creation
  • graphic design
  • technology – social media software (license)
  • advertising
  • promotions.
Targeting customers through their wants and needs to create better marketing campaigns
Targeting customers through their wants and needs to create better marketing campaigns

The target customers

At times we are so engrossed in creating and developing a product or service that we overlook the most important part of any business: the customer. When you take the time to learn about the people who will actually buy your product, you can better understand how you make those sales in the first place.

The more you understand about your target customer the more you can use language they appreciate, the market where they spend their time offline and online and design a product that they will want. There are lots of ways to research customers or potential customers.

Target customers

In marketing terms, your customers are defined as a group of people to whom your product is being marketed. In order to market yourself and your product, you have to know who you want to attract. This is your target market; namely a group of customers at whom your business has decided to aim its marketing efforts and ultimately to fulfil your business’s sole aim in selling the merchandise.

The nature of target customers

This might be obvious but in order to find your target customers, you need to remember it is not about you. It is about your product and the people who buy it.

While you need to be knowledgeable about your product you also need to be honest in your marketing approach. In other words, do not describe your target market by who you want to sell to but rather by who wants to buy from you.

Perhaps you believe it is the middle-aged mothers who will buy your handcrafted beaded jewellery when in fact you would sell more to single female students. It could be that you think the main target customer group for buying high-tech gadgets is young professional males when it is married men who actually spend more on these devices.

By identifying your target customers, you can learn more about them, start to think like them and find the most efficient way to locate them.

Researching the nature of your target customers

What do you need to know about your target customers? The most obvious place to start would be defining the demographic profile.

Demographic data includes factors like age, gender, ethnic background, income, education, marital status, family status, and occupation. By determining as much of this information as you can, you can start to understand the type of customer who would buy your product.

If you want a more well-rounded description of your target customer, there are a number of other characteristics to consider when defining your target market’s demographic profile. Getting to know your customer in every way possible will only heighten the opportunity to sell your product to the correct person. Factors to consider include the current or potential customer’s lifestyle and interests, their personality and behaviour; and even their attitude and values.

With a well-defined description of your target customer, you know exactly to whom you can sell, what they need, and how to convince them they should buy it from you.

Locating target customer groups

While demographic data can inform you of the location of your target customers, there are many ways to reach customers or potential customers.

Face-to-face or by telephone – With permission, you could record what your customers think about your product or service. This is a way to find out their likes and dislikes, and how they would improve the product/service. You could ask them about your competitors. With this method, you can notice the language they use, the metaphors, and how they use your product, which could be quite different from how you use it.

While this method can illicit excellent and detailed information, it is time-consuming and you are limited with the number of people you can reach.

Online surveys – You could reach a larger number of customers through online surveys. You could use Google, and surveys, eg PollDaddy.com and SurveyMonkey. You can then ask your customers for information on their motivations, who they are, and what websites they visit.

Social networks – Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are excellent ways to gain access to people who might be interested in your business offerings. Both can provide information about the likes and dislikes of consumers.

The regular search feature on Twitter enables you to quickly discover who is saying what about the topics that interest you. It also offers an advanced search feature that enables you to find users with keywords and phrases. In turn, Facebook is search-friendly too in that it allows you to search people by the company (yours or competitor businesses) and by email as well.

Google also has a number of strategies and tools. Google Ad planner will tell you where people go online, traffic to websites these people go to, and other websites that your potential audience goes to. With Google Geotargeting you can determine the geolocation of a website visitor and enables you to deliver different content to that visitor based on his or her location.

In turn, blogs/websites can reveal current trends, and news on a particular product, let you know what questions are being asked by people, and could also tell you what customers think of your competitors.

Acquiring new and old customers will depend on a delicate balance of acquisition and retention marketing campaigns
Acquiring new and old customers will depend on a delicate balance of acquisition and retention marketing campaigns

Retention and acquisition programmes

There are two important programmes while working on social media:

  1. acquisition
  2. retention (including building loyalty).

The acquisition programme

The acquisition is the process of getting new people on board; the phase where you acquire new customers. There are a number of acquisitions programmes or methods in which you can acquire new customers including:

Forums – You can join the industry-based forums and if used properly this can be highly effective in attracting new customers.

Online advertisements – There is a wide range of online advertising. Both Google and Facebook have sponsored advertising and in turn, there are various formats such as banners across a range of platforms. What you need to decide is what sort of advertisement would attract your target audience.

Blogging – Commenting on various blogs, articles and posts is a great way to encourage people into looking at you, and your product and link them to your website.

Competitors – joining a competitor’s community on their website, blog or other social media platforms (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) can be advantageous in gaining new customers. This should not be construed as a way to steal their community members. It should be used as a way to add value to constructive discussions. Customers decide for themselves which company to choose and which product they will buy.

The retention programme

Retention is the process of retaining your existing customers. With these people, you need to deliver the desired result. You need to ensure your customers are happy with your product or service. A happy customer is someone who has not defected to a competitor. It is someone who intends to purchase more goods and services from you. It is someone willing to recommend your company and its products to others.

Customer support

A large part of retaining your customers is having good customer support. While it is important that customers can contact you when they have an issue with your product, customer support should be more than just a reaction. Customers should be actively encouraged to share their comments – whether negative or positive. Good customer service is proactively notifying customers when there are new items such as problems with the merchandise, product changes, new events, and special offers. It is about building loyalty, which is itself a lifelong and ongoing process.

Loyalty programmes and rewards

Take advantage of social media tools to track and reward your most loyal customers. You could create a deal that enables your customer retention programme members to earn a reward based on a set amount of check-ins. Or you could randomly give away prizes to encourage people to check-in.

Geofencing is a social media tool that can be used to encourage people to stop by your business. It is a virtual boundary set around a particular location on a location-based network.

For example, if one of your customer retention programme members walks near your shop, you could automatically send them a message with a special offer or discount thus encouraging them to call your shop.

Customers who check in at your business online or in person are passionate about your brand and so it makes sense to reward them for their passion, which in turn encourages others to join them in their fun. Combining the loyalty programme with location-based marketing enables you to recognise customers just for visiting your store, thereby making it possible for the general population to actively participate in your customer retention programme.

The retention programme overall is not about sitting back once you have attained a new customer but actively encouraging them to buy more of your products or most importantly for them to recommend you to other people. If your prospective customers see you as being proactive, responsive, and accessible through the way you engage with your existing customers, surely this will help to convert them.

Social media’s part in the acquisition and retention programmes

What role does social media play in the acquisition and retention programmes? Social media could be construed as an objective third-party opinion. It enables real-time interaction and encourages the development of an environment to inform while building trust and creditability.

A LinkedIn group or a customer support forum on your own company website could be used as an ad hoc interaction platform to discuss a specific category of product. This interaction with your existing customers enables you to get honest feedback regarding customer satisfaction, needs, or problems.

This form of social media enhances the company-customer relationship as it goes beyond the actual sale. Social platforms allow companies to have direct, immediate, and interactive communication with many customers. Social media is the ideal way of putting the customer first.

Social media can also be the perfect way of using happy existing customers to cultivate new ones. It can turn your current customers into promoters of your product. The trick is to spot your influencers and convert more of your current customers into influencers.

These are the people who are the best source of new prospects. They know your new customers already. In short, concentrating on retention might be the key to new customer acquisition through social media.

Knowing how to target your customers will save both time and monies to increase your ROI
Knowing how to target your customers will save both time and monies to increase your ROI

How to reach your target customers

Marketing Plan

Your marketing plan should include everything you do to get your customers to buy your product or service and so it is important you spend enough time to get all of the research you need to complete it successfully. A good marketing plan empowers your business.

Your marketing plan should include:

  • your strategy (measurable objectives and goals)
  • a definition of your market situation (in particular issues affecting your product, customers and competition)
  • a list of your competitors (direct and indirect) and their offerings
  • your target customers
  • your marketing message (position, brand, and creative strategy)
  • an outline of your communication tactics (media channels) with your customers
  • the budget allocated for the marketing plan
  • a step-by-step action plan (with timelines and costing), which is followed in carrying out the marketing plan
  • a list of opportunities for long-term market development.

In this section, we will look at the target customers and how to reach them in accordance with the marketing plan.

Target customers

Your target customers are a group of customers at whom your business has decided to aim its marketing efforts and ultimately fulfil your business’s sole aim in selling the merchandise.

They are distinguishable by a number of general and specific aspects including:

  • geographic (location, region, climate)
  • demographic/socioeconomic (gender, age, occupation, education, income, household size, and family)
  • psychographic (similar attitudes, values, and lifestyles)
  • behavioural (occasions, degree of loyalty)
  • product-related (relationship to a product).

Your personal target customers share common characteristics; they are the type of people businesses believe will be the company’s most loyal customers.

Identify the target market

It is important to spend time finding your target customer. It is not easy but it is important as a lot of time and money can be wasted on a target market that is later found to be less interested in the product than others. Although it is impossible to capture every customer within your target market, gearing your services toward the identified market will make sales much easier.

You need to identify which customer categories have the greatest need for your products and consider the commonalities of your customer group. It is also advisable to consider the size of your group with regard to the estimated future growth. Choose a market that is large enough and is expected to grow in membership in order to make, and maintain, a profit.

Steps to consider

If your business is already operating, take a look at your current customer base to identify the products or services that interest them and determine what benefits they get from those products and/or services.

If you are a new company, look at the types of people who you believe will purchase your products and/or use your services. In order to do this, you need to consider the personal characteristics of your potential customers and determine how their lifestyle might influence them to purchase your products.

Think about their interests, values, and personality traits. Consider how and when your customer will use your services, as well as the particular features that attract the customer. Once you have compiled all your research findings, you can then use these to determine which types of people would have the most need for your product/services.

Look at your competitors’ target market. Ask yourself how they satisfy the needs of their customers. Can you do more for their customers? Perhaps you can see areas in the market that have been overlooked by your competitors. In this case, you could fill any void within the market, rather than targeting the same market as your competition.

Advertising for your target customers

Once you have pinpointed your target customer group, you should design all advertising with this group in mind. More generalised advertising that focuses primarily on the product (failing to acknowledge the customer’s needs/wants) will not stand out in the multitude of advertisements. By doing this, your advertising could totally miss the mark resulting in a total waste of time and money.

Once you know who you want to target, it is much easier to figure out which media you can use to reach them and what marketing messages will resonate with them. Instead of sending direct mail to large groups of people, you can send only to those who fit your criteria. Save money and get a better return on investment by defining your target audience.

One of the most powerful aspects of online marketing is the ability to target your chosen demographic with a considerable degree of accuracy. The web offers countless opportunities to ‘speak’ to current and potential customers.

There are a number of online marketing options that will help you reach your target group:

Surveys, studies, and articles (one-way communication)

Determining what a target market finds appealing is often done through surveys and studies. Established businesses could consider conducting their own study and asking current customers on their database for feedback. You could also search online for survey results studies or consider conducting a new survey. You could search for magazine articles. By doing a search on Google, you can find many reports with useful data and even some cost-free studies (eg by Arbitron).

Blogs and forums (multi-way communication)

You could search for blogs and forums where people in your target market communicate their opinions. You could get involved in focus groups where you could ask members of a target group their opinions on a product or advertising technique, and use the information to develop desirable and effective advertising.

Social media tools

Banner ads – these small rectangular advertisements appear on all sorts of web pages and vary considerably in appearance and subject matter, but they all share a basic function: if you click on them, your Internet browser will direct you to the advertiser’s website.

This advertisement is known as a ‘click through’ and in many cases, banner ads are delivered by a central ad server. Advertisement campaigns can be monitored in real-time and targeted to the customer’s interests. This behaviour is often tracked through the use of a click tag.

Geotargeting – you can also zero in on geographical target customers. By tracking the IP address of the user, you can have ads appear before those in the location you are targeting.

Pay-Per-Click (‘PPC’) – allows you to create a small text ad and then have that ad appear on the screen when the user is searching for a keyword relating to your business. Google and its AdWords program is currently the leader in PPC.

Organic search/search engine optimisation (SEO) – the remainder of the search results page is made up of organic or ‘natural’ search results. These listings are made based on the HTML tags and relevant content found on a website. By specifically tailoring these elements, you can focus on particular audiences in a similar fashion as PPC. Essentially when you do SEO you are trying to modify the content of your web pages so it appears at the highest rank in search results.

These four online marketing approaches embody some of the most prominent and cost-effective methods of using the Internet to reach your target customers with extreme accuracy.

Collecting your data will help inform and educate you with your marketing campaigns
Collecting your data will help inform and educate you with your marketing campaigns

Data collection and reporting system

Data collection

Data collection is the systematic method of gathering and measuring information on selected variables. It is about contributing to the development of a database, in this regard a marketing database.

Why do we collect data for the marketing plan?

  • to enable us to answer certain questions including:
    • who is our target customer group?
    • how do we reach them?
  • to guide us in the correct direction and follow each step of the marketing plan
  • to help us evaluate the outcomes of the marketing process/plan.

Though in order to achieve these goals it is important to get accurate data.

The importance of capturing the data correctly

Regardless of the type of data required or the preference in acquiring it, accurate data collection is essential to getting the results you will need for your marketing plan.

The main consequence of improperly collected data is that you obtain incorrect findings (eg wrong target customer group) resulting in wasted resources (staff and time and money). In turn, your reporting system will not be accurate.

While quality data means better decisions and improved campaign effectiveness, this data should moreover capture the information required by your marketing plan. It should be up to date and its effectiveness maintained continually.

How should you capture your data?

  • identify people’s information needs (What are they seeking?#identify sources of information to meet current and foreseeable needs (websites, landing pages, blogs, videos, social pages, ads, search rankings, etc)
  • identify people’s behaviour online (e.g. Where are they coming from? What is driving them to your web pages? What are they doing once they get there? How long are they staying? When and where are they leaving and why? Are they taking some kind of action?)
  • check the validity and reliability of the information
  • use language and communication styles suitable for your audience
  • present information clearly, succinctly, and accurately
  • listen actively, ask encouraging questions, clarifying points to check mutual agreement.

Is the information accurate and what do you need?

Questions you should ask yourself:

  • What is the data telling us?
  • How accurate do we feel that the information is?
  • How current is the information?
  • How can we decipher this information to help us make better decisions?

To get accurate data now you need the right tools

With the constant emergence of new data collection technologies, businesses are gathering and storing larger volumes of information at a faster pace. The variety of data is becoming more diversified as well. Technology is allowing us to use better tools for more precise measurement.

With all of the advances in digital marketing and social media technology, it is crucial that companies use the right tools to gather information and the right people to intelligently decipher the data.

A tool like Google Analytics allows the marketing team to measure very accurately where the customers come from, what languages they speak, how long they engage with digital content and what they respond well to, and the kinds of devices they use. All of this is invaluable marketing information.

Communicating the right message to engage with your target audience
Communicating the right message to engage with your target audience

Agreeing with the message

A key aspect of any successful marketing plan is aligning the efforts and messaging with the marketing plan. Before even starting the plan it is important to gain support for it and motivate teams toward achieving the message that conveys the marketing plan:

  • create a vision of what you want your marketing campaign to achieve
  • communicate this vision as clearly and enthusiastically as possible to the marketing team
  • align your vision with the supportive marketing objectives and plans (perhaps working on this with your marketing team)
  • ensure that your team and any external marketing professionals working within your team understand and can see how the vision, goals, and objectives in accordance with the marketing plan will be used to achieve your marketing goal.

Once the marketing vision is clearly communicated and understood:

  • decide and agree on the purpose of the marketing plan
  • discuss and agree on the key objectives and scope of the proposed marketing project and the available resources responsible for creating the marketing message
  • identify how the proposed marketing message fits with the overall marketing objectives and strategy
  • develop, in consultation with relevant people, a realistic and thorough plan for creating an appropriate message and achieving the key objectives
  • discuss and agree on this message with key team members and management, making changes where necessary.

When the marketing plan steps, roles, and responsibilities of team members are communicated and clearly understood, there needs to be agreement on the message you will be distributed to your target customers.

The marketing team needs to agree and confirm written briefs for all work that will be carried out. Considerable care needs to be taken when defining and agreeing on the message that conveys the marketing plan.

All know exactly what you are selling


Providing a suitable ‘brief’ is a key communication tool to help the telemarketing team, the marketing department, or a professional agency fulfil the requirements you have set. Well-experienced telemarketing staff and managers understand what works and what does not for different markets.

They will be aware of a range of different types of propositions and products and services. Listen to their advice about how to refine the marketing message to make it fit in with the expectations of the target group.


An agreed marketing message requires you to answer questions like:

  • What do you most wish to say about the product/service?
  • Do marketing colleagues understand and agree with this?
  • Do customers agree that it is what they want?

Whatever the message is, the important thing is that it is understood and agreed upon by the marketing team.

Once it is agreed on what the message/brand should convey, then this message must be conveyed consistently to the customer.

An agreed marketing message leads to brand value for customers and ultimately increased sales and revenue. With digital marketing, there is a considerable range of tools to measure the success or otherwise of a digital marketing campaign.

Conversion is the term used to describe how the customer response to a marketing message resulted in a measurable action such as a: brochure download, subscribing to a newsletter, a purchase, etc. Brand awareness is also output from digital marketing but is much less easily measured. 

Distributing the marketing message across multiple channels to extend its reach
Distributing the marketing message across multiple channels to extend its reach

Distributing marketing messages

Marketing distribution strategy

As part of your marketing plan, you need to assess your distribution abilities by describing how this distribution supports your marketing goals and objectives. You should tailor distribution and delivery systems to fit your marketing objectives. Some points to consider:

You want to:

  • increase sales
    • offer free delivery for a large volume of orders
    • add new distribution channels (eg online sales)
  • gain new customers
    • offer something your competitors do not offer (eg home delivery)
  • Share target customers
    • work with a business partner who already has a large volume of traffic to their website.

Marketing strategy – getting the message across

A part of your marketing distribution plan is your marketing strategy. This should describe how you will communicate your marketing message to your target customers outlined in your marketing plan.

It will indicate your market area, your target customers, and your marketing message. It will describe the creative approach you will use to convey your message. It will indicate the sort of media channels most appropriate for your type of message and one that will successfully reach both your target customers and the selected number of hits. It should be one that enhances your image and brand.

Lastly, when deciding on the distribution of your message, the budget you have allocated for your plan should be considered.

How to distribute your messages

A good marketing plan should help you decide on how to distribute your messages. You need to consider how you will communicate with your target customers. Will it be one-to-one direct mail, email, display or social media advertising, mobile advertising, or through using mass media channels such as TV and radio?

With regard to your advertising, whether online or offline, you will need to consider the product/service on offer as well as your company image/brand and consider which media will work best in selling the goods and enhancing the company image. Ultimately, a clear decision is necessary about which is the appropriate media for reaching your target market.

Is it national or international media, and what kind of digital marketing promotion or initiatives will be required?

Depending on the message you want to convey, the media you wish to use and the target customers (type and number) you might consider hiring professional media marketing professionals. Whether hiring external consultants or using in-house marketing teams one of the most important steps to consider is ensuring that everyone is in agreement with the marketing plan and the distribution of the marketing message.

Addressing problems with the marketing message

Certain problems that could arise with the marketing plan message include:

  • the message omits contact information (no email address, or telephone number)
  • the message is not understood by some customers
  • the message is inconsistent with the digital marketing platform selected
  • the message is not finely tuned enough for the target group.

Addressing these problems:

  • ensure that everyone on the marketing team is in agreement with the marketing message
  • set up customer panels to validate that the messaging is correct.

No ‘split testing’ of different marketing messages has been carried out to understand what will work best with different customer groups.

Regulatory compliance used to ensure your marketing campaigns are legal, honest, decent and truthful
Regulatory compliance used to ensure your marketing campaigns are legal, honest, decent and truthful

Legal, regulatory, and industry standards

Prior to considering methods of advertising and marketing, it is important to ensure that you understand and adhere to laws relating to data protection and customer rights concerning privacy. This especially relates to maintaining and using lists and people’s personal details for telemarketing, direct mail, texting, and email.

In turn, when conducting marketing campaigns, businesses should also be aware of copyright laws, piracy, and plagiarism.

Data protection

Data protection concerns the legal issues surrounding the collection and distribution of data. It exists wherever ‘personally identifiable information’ is collected and stored. It can arise in response to information from a wide range of sources.

Any personal data must be:

  • securely stored
  • available only to those who should have been given permission to have it
  • used only for stated and agreed purposes.

Data privacy

Aligned with data protection is a person’s right to privacy. It is a major challenge to share data while protecting a person’s identifiable information in that the legal stipulations in a person’s right to privacy vary immensely worldwide. This is hugely evident in the increasing use of the Internet. Personal information collected by marketing personnel from users online (eg form filling, competition entries) is personal information and you must take steps to protect this information.

Examples of data privacy issues include:

Improper collection collecting a customer’s private data from the Internet without their knowledge

Improper monitoring – monitoring a customer’s activities on the Internet without their knowledge

Improper analysis – analysing a customer’s private data without giving proper notice and deriving conclusions from this analysis

Improper transfer – transferring a customer’s private data to other companies without the customer’s knowledge

Unwanted solicitation – sending data via the Internet to target customers without their permission (eg junk mail or mass marketing emailing)

Improper storage – storing private data in a non-secure manner.

Copyright laws

Copyright is when a person creates an original piece of work that is ‘fixed’ in a physical or concrete medium. Examples of works that can be subject to copyright laws are:

  • written works (eg articles)
  • visual works (eg advertisements)
  • audio-visual works (eg online videos).

The person who created the piece becomes the ‘owner’ of the work (copyright ownership) and they have the exclusive right to this work.

Copyright applies to material on the Internet and this includes social media pages.

Piracy and plagiarism

Piracy is any form of duplication and/or distribution of data (personal or otherwise) without the written permission of its owners. Examples of this would be illegally downloading copyright material from the Internet.

Plagiarism is the ‘wrongful appropriation’ and ‘purloining and publication’ of another author’s ‘language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions’, and the representation of them as one’s own original work (Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plagiarism). In other words, it is presenting someone else’s work as your own. It is copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit to the author/creator and failing to put a quotation in quotation marks.


Industry standards

Legal and regulatory considerations apply to marketing and advertising messages across a range of different media, both traditional and online: TV, newspapers, radio, email, and mobile, as well as to industry-specific ones. Whatever the marketing initiative, full consideration needs to be given to the campaign planning, in order that no reputation or brand damage is incurred by inappropriately or improperly addressing a particular target group in an inappropriate way.